Welcome to a grand experiment: my shiny new Patreon page, which I intend to use as a hub for my creative efforts and experiments as I surge ever forward into the world of storytelling. If you follow me on this blog, I figure you like my writing, so why not consider signing up? For just a few dollars a month you can offer me some consistent, valuable support, and you can get access to some very fun stuff…
Fiction As I start making Career Moves (TM) towards becoming a professional published author, I want to use this platform as a place to play with my creative writing for an interested audience. On this account I want to publish:
Short stories and flash fiction
Snippets of longer original works
Behind-the-scenes and work-in-progress posts about putting together said longer works—including the novel I’ve written for my PhD
You can write a novel for a PhD? Yes you can! I can also post insights into the process of combining creative work with academia if people will find it useful.
I write about:
Playful, atmospheric fantasy settings
Queer found families and unexpected tight-knit friendships
Coming-of-age stories dealing with healing and agency
Tricky trickster gods and other myth-inspired character tropes
If you want a piece of that pie in your inbox every month, consider joining up! The first piece of short fiction—a morning spent with a witch feeding secrets to crows—will be going live in a few days!
While I intend for this to mostly be a hub for my fiction, following me on Patreon will also get you:
Sneak peaks at future blog posts
Monthly roundup and recommendation posts about what I’ve been enjoying and why you might want to check it (be it a book, a TV series, a game, or whatever) out too!
Insights into the freelancing process
Insights into the Weird and Wacky World of Academia
I write about:
LGBTQIA+ representation in media and the many shapes it can take
How stories play with familiar tropes and stereotypes
How atmosphere and writing style can make magic happen
Interesting and cool narrative tricks I want to highlight and celebrate
If any of that sounds like it’s for you, come on board! I’d be happy to have you. Or, of course, if this isn’t your style, you can always drop me a one-time donation in the digital tip jar that is Ko-Fi.
I deeply appreciate every read, every like, and every cent of support. I look forward to seeing some of you there!
Here we are, another rotation around the sun. 2021 is done and dusted, and I’m sure many people are glad to see the back of it. As always, for me it’s a little complicated. I had some high highs: I convened a creative writing unit again and got great feedback from my students. I was writing and editing for Anime Feminist and The Anime Herald, which allowed me to work with awesome teams and some really great feature writers. I got a tattoo! I worked on some really fun creative stuff, including revising the novel that forms the major body of my PhD.
There were also some not-so-high highs: the scholarship that kept me afloat for the first three years of that PhD ran out, meaning I was left swimming in the sometimes unforgiving tide of sessional academic work and temporary office contracts. I’ve managed to avoid COVID (touch wood) but I managed to get glandular fever. It’s been a year of being Tired, perpetually, but where the symptoms of that illness end and general exhaustion from workload and the emotional stress of global pandemics etc begins… it’s difficult to say. At my supervisor’s suggestion I took an official semester-long break from my thesis to focus on paid work and general recovery, which turned out to be massively good advice.
I hope the next twelve months are kinder and the world is a less scary place. Do I have plans and goals for 2022? Aside from finishing aforementioned thesis (they’ll start getting cranky with me if I stretch it out much further than these four years) I really don’t know—I’m just going to keep walking on whatever ground ends up beneath my feet and try not to trip or get blisters. I think it’s all I can do, and I’m going to do my best.
If nothing else, you know I’m going to keep writing! So rain or shine, I’ll be here. I hope my words and thoughts can keep bringing people joy and making people think. I wish a safe year to every one of my readers, and am immensely grateful you keep coming back.
So here’s to that—one final roundup of 2021 content, and on we go into whatever the hell comes next!
Genre-Savvy Protagonists in Queer YA Rom-coms – a short “podcast” recording where I explore coming-of-age stories where the rules of the romantic comedy get broken and put back together in new, queer ways, focusing on Loveless and Meet Cute Diary as examples.
If you find the world of the theatre as haunting and fascinating as I do, you might enjoy the channel Wait in the Wings, which covers the (often tangled) production histories of iconic musicals. I found this history of the Carrie musical particularly wild. It’s got everything: special effects chaos, the ideological battle between True Theatre and the emerging trope of the Mega-Musical, and people running off with each other’s money (and yet, a strangely happy ending…).
The desire to document a cat’s cuddly shenanigans is something innate to humanity. Xiran Jay Zhao takes a quick tour through the cat chronicles of poet Lu You, and it is adorable and relatable.
Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Fiction: January – June 2022: Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade – the devil works hard, but Dahlia Adler and the LGBTQ Reads team work harder. Here is a glorious compendium of future queer releases (if you don’t follow them already, LGBTQ Reads is great: truly an invaluable resource if you’re keeping an eye on queer publishing!)
More Than Tragedy: Decentring Transphobic Violence in Trans YA Fiction – Michael Gray Bulla explores the trope of the “Trans Hero’s Journey” and the “Cis Hero’s Journey” and how both models of coming-of-age stories inevitably involve their trans characters (whether main character or love interest) suffering in order to give their cisgender co-stars something to think about.
A Double-Edged Sword: Reconsidering Moe Through a Neurodiverse Lens – it’s often thought that “moeblob” characters are designed to appeal to a protective, affectionate male market, and thus must be unrealistic and unrelatable to real women’s experiences. As Marina Garrow explores, however, feminist critique of these “useless” “airheaded” or otherwise “helpless” girl characters often overlooks their potential resonance with a neurodiverse audience, and risks falling into ableist ideas along the way.
And our final song for 2021: something of an anthem for the year, I reckon.
That’s all for now—see you in a few days for anime premieres!
Good morning to you all on this Halloween day, at the end of a month that’s been as exciting and harrowing as a haunted house. It’s a busy time of year and I’m wearing a lot of different professional hats, switching rapidly between them. A valuable lesson I’ll impart onto anyone who’s listening is that sometimes you just need to take an afternoon nap. Seriously, it will work wonders. Cats have the right idea!
Anime Feminist Recommendations of Summer 2021 – there wasn’t much to spotlight (especially since Aquatope isn’t yet finished) but there were a few gems worth your time. Read my rec for the extremely charming Love Live! Superstar!! and the rest of the team’s thoughts!
Bonus book chats: read me trying to pick apart the gay space-magic puzzle box that is Harrow the Ninth in real time!
Dear Evan Hansen wants to tell a meaningful story about mental health (supposedly) but does so in such a clumsy way that it becomes ethically reprehensible as well as generally badly-written. A deep dive into where this falls as a movie and as an adaptation of a musical! Hooray!
Long before our current era of live-action adaptations of animated works, there was Scooby Doo—a movie that worked surprisingly well, hinging on a few key factors that this essayist lays out.
A heartfelt but baffled retrospective on Love Never Dies, stage show sequel to Phantom of the Opera (I went to see that Melbourne 2011 show, did you know? Stuff’s good).
All Murder, No Sex: Why “Upper YA” Does Not Equal “Sexy YA” – the “age appropriateness” of a book is often determined by its level of sexual content, meaning that a book with one queer makeout session may rate higher than a book with several gory murder scenes. Finn Longman explores the oxymorons of this from both an ace perspective and a writer’s perspective.
Genre and Gender in Wonder Egg Priority – no, I have not run out of words about this show. These ones are about the series’ weird genre shift from fantasy to sci-fi, and how that coincides and interlinks directly with its weird shift in narrative focus away from the girls and towards the adult men.
Bonus book chats: Ciara Smyth makes me laugh AND wrecks my shop (again) with Not My Problem, a self-styled (and authentically irritating) “romance expert” gets up to shenanigans in Meet Cute Diary, we attack and dethrone some gods in Alexandra Bracken’s Lore, and get in the robot in the surprisingly fantastic Gearbreakers.
An analysis of The Sad Walrus Show, and what it gets so right about melancholy and mental health (and where it might come off more nuanced than its American “adult anthro animals” counterparts like, say, BoJack Horseman)
I’m always here for deep dives into what the hell is going on with Riverdale, and this is one with a more positive take: Riverdale is written like wrestling, and by that metric Riverdale is a fantastic phantasmagoria.
We all had fun poking and peering at the Met Gala costumes, but what’s it like behind the scenes? Eugene Lee Yang, who attended for the first time this year—invited just a week in advance!—gives us a look behind the curtain as well as a celebration of what’s truly important about the event in terms of art, history, and visibility for marginalised creators.
The Troubled Golden Age of Trans Literature – more books by trans authors are hitting shelves and milestones, but publishing still has its traditional hang-ups, and many writers are calling for more nuanced conversation surrounding their books and the current market.
Fallout 4 Has Aged Like a Ghoul – during lockdown, my partner booted the ol’ post-apocalyptic Bethesda game back up and found a very lacklustre experience waiting for them. Steven Strom’s article (reposted at just the right time) hits the nail on the head as to why the RPG feels so shallow and has so little longevity, especially compared to others in its franchise.
In July, I presented at two different virtual conferences, and have made these short presentations available for anyone that might find them useful or interesting! (Or anyone who just wants to check out my cool glasses)
How might the liminal, mischievous, underdog figure of the Trickster lend itself to stories about queer teens? (Presented in Canada, but from right in front of my bookshelf!)
Join my colleague Chloe and I for a brief introduction to the world of queer young adult fiction, from its historic beginnings in the 1960s all the way through to the new directions it’s taking now!
Around the web
A brief and energetic introduction to the all-women Takarazuka theatre tradition, which Kageki Shojo!! is drawing heavy inspiration from.
Modern costume dramas will often make their female leads derisive of feminine dress and activities as a shorthand for them being “feminist” by 21st century standards, despite the fact this actually runs counter to what feminist activists of the era were doing.
The Late Stage (or Lock Down) Loopy La-las – the Thesis Whisperer examines the very scientific concept of “the loopy la-las” and the way your brain can melt when deep in academic work. I reckon they’re onto something, and may start using that phrasing.
We Are the Mountain: A Look at the “Inactive” Protagonist – Vida Cruz examines the way “agency” is often conflated with mobility and action, particularly in sci-fi and fantasy, and how surviving and coping with a world that Others you is an acceptable form of character strength even if it’s commonly dismissed.
What a glorious and exhausting anime-filled month! There’s always a sparkling anticipation in the air when it comes to premiere season. It’s a bit of a weird, stretched-out premiere season (and I have a couple more reviews on the way) and one that hasn’t yielded too many gems (though I am very much enamoured with both The Aquatope on White Sand and Kageki Shoujo!! every week). But for now, we’re taking a breath, and gathering all the goss in one place. See below!
Loki does not belong to the cis. Jessie runs through the character’s history, from his origins in myth through to Marvel comics and finally the movies and TV show, examining the many shifting layers of queer resonance he’s had in each incarnation.
One of many (loving yet frustrated) reflections on what went awry with WEGG, which I feel serves as an effective summary if you’re not familiar with the show but are curious what all the fuss is about. There are some additional details I’d add in terms of the thematic betrayal in the final episodes, but for that you can listen to the podcast!
Aesthetics (TM) like cottagecore and Dark Academia are a big part of the Internet landscape, but the idea of an artistic historical-inspired lifestyle is nothing new – in fact, as these costume historians dig into, the modern -core subcultures have an intriguing amount of parallels to fashions and philosophies from the Victorian era.
Want to settle in for a couple hours and listen to a French person well-versed in trashy television shred Riverdale to pieces, with detailed examinations of each character’s contradictions, the broken timeline, the problematic nature of sexualising the teenaged cast, and the general egomania of the showrunners? Of course you do. Grab a bag of chips and check this out.
What is YA, Anyway? – author Finn Longman muses on where the distinction truly lies between YA and adult fiction, and whether it has more to do with framing and theme than simply just the age of the characters.
Happy Pride Month, everyone! Are we all looking forward to Wrath Month in July?
June has been very busy, but in an exciting, productive way. It’s the dead of winter here, and I’m spending a lot of time bundled up in a too-big hoodie revising and fleshing out my thesis. It’s a work in progress, but progress is happening, which is both very rewarding and deeply surreal. As you can see from the list of links below, this did not deter me from diving into the fun of recommendation posts. Check them out if you haven’t yet!
One Last Stop and the Magic of Queer History – and to actually wrap us up, a final post delving into the way this time-fracture romance explores the importance of queer memory and the past, present, and future of queer communities
SIX is a lot of fun, but takes some liberties with its depictions of historical figures. But what exactly does the concert leave out, and what picture does it leave the audience with? (This is a pretty balanced and really interesting examination, rather than a dunk, I promise)
Initially derided as vapid and silly by a lot of 2000s anime fandom, K-On! is now regarded as a classic that defined a genre and has deep nostalgic value. Here’s a little look into how the series elevated its source material from fun four-panel comics into sweet and character-driven story, and why it works so well.
Eloquently and hilariously, Nick reviews the fairy tale retelling Sydney White, which turns into a whistle-stop tour of the uncomfortable tropes that 2000s-era comedy loved to lean on.
Spring is Sprung and I Have Not – “What does adulthood look like when you do not follow amatonormative and sex-normative pathways? What does winter look like when you are not looking forward to Spring?”
I have been a busy bee, working on fun and exciting things like this:
All going to plan (and I did make a plan, a beautiful little spreadsheet that I had to submit to the faculty) I’m submitting my PhD in August. It is DEEPLY surreal to be saying such a thing, after being in a constant state of Working On It for over three years now. The sensible thing would be to warn you all that I’ll be around less during the following months, but in actual fact the reverse is true because I’ve already scheduled a bunch of fun posts for Pride Month. Oops? I just love Making Content.
Speaking of content, here’s what I published this May!
Land of the Lustrous is a stunning adaptation not because it copies its source material shot for shot, but because it captures the beauty and energy of the manga while doing things unique to the medium of animation. This is a really cool breakdown of why the visual style in both versions works so effectively, and it makes me dearly want to reread and rewatch both.
Emily in Paris pulls the impressive feat of simultaneously presenting France as an idealistic playground for its American protagonist, and being excruciatingly racist to everyone who lives there. This Paris-born analyst breaks down why the show is so deeply dumb. Bonus: this show is so dumb that its Golden Globe nominations sparked an investigation into the corruption of award shows!
A dip into some Tumblr Folklore: a web series that never got made (or did it?), a study in misplaced enthusiasm, and a trip back to the conversation around queer representation circa 2014.
Animation is just really cool!! Here is a dip into the technique of “smears”, a trick that originated to give a greater sense of fluid movement to hand-drawn cartoons but is also making an appearance in video games.
One Garfield archivist’s quest into the orange cat’s weird pop cultural past, from the lost microfiche where the drafts that became the comic live to the (haunting? Charming?) tradition of Garfield Tourism in the heart of the US. Genuinely fascinating and I cannot help but be endeared to this fellow’s devotion.
The Earnest Elfin Dream Gay – an essay from a couple of years ago about the (possible) gay adolescent answer to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a character type the author has noticed popping up to represent a new and specific fantasy in YA romance.
Why Seven Seas Altered Its Light Novels – a look into the recent controversy surrounding the manga publisher’s novel translations, detailing the complicated history of “adapting” texts for English-language audiences (read: American sensibilities) and the tensions between fans, freelance translators, and the editors who have the final say.
What Makes Melty Blood So Important? – though often memed-upon, the Melty Blood fighting game is an emblem of a weird yet golden era of anime fandom, and a rare peek into the world of Type-Moon before the juggernaut that is Fate even existed.
Zombie Land Saga: Idol Anime for Non-Idol Fans – Mercedez explores the appeal of everyone’s favourite zombie popstar series, and how it works as both a love letter to and a critique of the idol industry in a way that many other shows do not.
Wandering Thoughts on Wandering Son – a retrospective musing on the landmark trans anime series from a first-time watcher (and a lament that this is still kinda the best we have).
A recommendations thread of manga with trans characters:
And, finally, for this month’s song-on-repeat, this banger that starts slow and gradually transforms a dive bar in the middle of nowhere into an extravagant gay club with the power of ambition and vibes:
And that’s all they wrote – see you soon for more!
You know what, I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with something poetic or funny to say to sum up March, but sometimes a month just passes by with relative peace and ease, and that’s worth celebrating even if it doesn’t generate many words. Here are some blog posts!
Tropical Rouge! Precure – Episode 1 – the new Precure series bursts onto the scene in a splash of colour, making me question the ethics of selling makeup to children but appealing deeply to my inner seven-year-old’s Mermaid Phase
A detailed breakdown of what exactly is so wrong with Sia’s directorial debut—here called “vanity project” as it really ought to be. Jessie discusses the problems creators can face when attempting to represent a marginalised group they do not belong to, particularly if they want to represent the entire group allegorically through one character instead of treating that character like an individual person.
A tour through the history of themed restaurants, from haunted cabarets in Bohemian Paris to American family diners banking on racist caricatures to the modern pop-up fandom eateries of today.
America’s Sweetheart: Thoughts on WandaVision – an analysis of where the MCU’s first TV show falls down, chiefly in how it bends backwards to make its protagonist “likeable” at the expense of letting her be morally ambiguous, messy, and interesting.
Why Do The Oscars Have a Limited View on Anime? – Best Animated Feature is usually a “lazy” judging category reserved for the latest Disney/Pixar blockbuster, with the occasional token nod to Studio Ghibli. With more anime films coming out in US cinemas, is there potential for a shift?
Anime Versus Rural Australia: A Retrospective – a memoir about a writer from Wagga Wagga discovering Pom Poko and FLCL as a kid, and finding an unexpected resonance between both works and his feelings about his small-town childhood.
March’s “song that’s stuck in my head”
Feeling devious? Looking glamorous? Perhaps… mischievous? And polyamorous? Bop along to this one with me.
And that’s a wrap! I’m back in Premiere Review Town next month, so there will be no big blog posts until May. Take care, everyone!